Affiliate recruitment is arguably the most important part of any well managed affiliate programme, and is crucial to growth. It is on the to-do list of any affiliate account manager and is a required skill of anyone looking to work in affiliate marketing. Online marketplace eBay launched their eBay Partner Network, their in-house affiliate network, in 2008 and recruitment has remained a priority ever since. 

Here we will outline the five step process that we adopt for affiliate recruitment to make the process as efficient as possible, that can be replicated across any programme, starting with building out the publisher base.

1. Understanding our clients’ business objectives and challenges 

When recruiting new publishers, you must understand what the advertiser is trying to achieve as a business.  This will define the recruitment strategy. Most advertisers work with multiple publisher types and publishers who sign up to your programme should find a range of promotional tools available to them. 

You can work closely with your publishers to ensure that they are getting the most out of the programme through offering site audits and suggestions for optimisations. This ensures that the publisher is driving quality sales for the advertiser and maximising their commission potential. 

2. Building the publisher pipeline 

To build out the pipeline you can identify potential publishers through a range of techniques including third party data intelligence tools, Google Alerts, social platforms, blog rolls, trade shows and industry networking events.  
Pipeline management is also crucial, particularly as your pipeline will grow over time. You can then categorise each publisher within the pipeline depending on where they are in the process, from sourced and initial contact to integrated and live. It is recommended that you try and forecast the revenue potential of each publisher so that the value of the pipeline can be measured over time.

3. Effectively communicate your proposition 

When you make initial contact with new publishers, always think about their needs first – a voucher code publisher will have different requirements to a blogger who writes product reviews for example. This will determine how to contact that publisher and the content of the message. Always anticipate the questions that the publisher will have too – they will always want to know about the commission structure, but some will prioritise promotional tools over range of products available for example. 

Speak to publishers and offer customer service not just through traditional methods like phone and email, but also instant messenger, social media, video conferences and events. Each publisher response needs to be managed individually how they are responded to will depend on their knowledge of affiliates, their level of integration or their available time. 

4. Activating the partnership 

Once a publisher has joined the programme, you must work very closely with them to make them revenue positive by servicing them through their specific needs; this can include creative assets, providing bespoke content or simply providing a text link. The needs of the publisher will also vary depending on how established they are in the affiliate space, their technical knowledge or the level of integration. 

5. Optimise and grow revenue 

Once a publisher has become revenue positive, continue working with that publisher to ensure that they maximise their revenue potential. To do this, you can categorise publishers by their size, type and their potential to grow. The strategy will be determined by where they fit in the overall spectrum. For publishers who you have been working with for a long period of time, you can run quarterly business reviews (QBRs) – these are an excellent way to demonstrate to a publisher their growth potential. 

QBRs can include a review of performance and initiatives, air concerns and challenges and plan future activity. Other publishers are more suited to publisher optimisation plans which focus on increasing the advertiser’s footprint and share of voice with a particular publisher, targeting specific pockets of traffic and profiles of users whilst analysing micro conversions on KPI’s such as click-through rate and conversion rate. Each of these plans should be re-visited over time, as both publishers and advertisers evolve over time. 

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